Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Friday, October 11, 2013 - 11:00am

By Chris Power, President and CEO, Capital Health

It happens every year; as the cold creeps in we stop to take stock. We think about what we have and we are grateful. We do this to gain perspective – to show appreciation.

But too often, health care organizations and their workers don’t take the same time to think about the good we’ve done or the people who have lent a hand to make it happen. Our messages are about efficiency and savings and value for dollar, and rightfully so - we are stewards of public money and we take that seriously. But this year, I want to look at what we have as an organization, the things that allow us to provide the best care we can, every day. Today, I write about abundance. That abundance starts with one thing that is indispensable in health care: passion.

Staff and physicians who care

When we speak with our staff about how they feel about their work, we hear that they care about Capital Health and they understand our mission and values. But what they really care about - what they are passionate about - is their day-to-day work. It is their interactions with patients, their time testing specimens in labs, their time responding to questions, and their time spent planning ways to make the patient experience better that motivates them. Staff members report high levels of pride in their work, especially when it affects patient care.

We also have an abundance of talent. Our organization has collected some of the best and the brightest from around the world, creating a place where almost all the health needs of our population are met right here. Unlike in some provinces where people have to travel across the country for specialized care, our staff and physicians are able to care for the sickest patients. This is good for Nova Scotian families. Less travel means less expense and less stress, at a time in people’s lives when expense and stress are the last things they need. For this we are thankful and we are proud to serve Nova Scotia the way we do.

More than just us

We take pride in what we do at Capital Health, but we realize that our accomplishments aren’t ours alone: they are the result of working with a supportive community and strong partners. We have an abundance of individuals and groups in our region who lend their expertise to Capital Health - from universities to high schools and from health regions to doctors’ offices. We all share the goal of caring for people, both formally and informally.

One of our partnerships is Thrive! Halifax, a group that includes Capital Health, the provincial government, Halifax Regional Municipality and Maritime Forces Atlantic. Our four organizations are the largest employers in Halifax, and we work together to encourage and help people make healthy lifestyle changes and to nurture a culture of wellness.

Just this past weekend, I and several Capital Health colleagues, along with employees of the other Thrive! organizations, took part in Hugs for Mental Health, a fundraising effort by the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. We asked local shoppers to give spare change or $5 via a cell phone text “hug,” raising more than $4,250. This was partnership in action - a group of like-minded employers working to help a caring organization.

We are also blessed with excellent academic partners. We serve an area that hosts several universities and colleges, numerous health professions, and world-class students. We draw on them and they draw on us. Teaching and learning is a key component of what we do, and the robust education programs that work with us in this endeavour are a gift few health regions have.

It’s about you

We have the benefit of a small army of enthusiastic, caring people helping with everything from wayfinding to patient information. More than 2,000 volunteers give their time to make our facilities and programs run smoothly. Like our staff and physicians, their motives are simple: improve the patient experience one day of volunteering at a time.

There are many ways to volunteer, from donning the official volunteer jacket and working in one or more than 300 programs and services, to taking a role in one of our patient and public engagement programs.

In every way they choose, our volunteers, staff, physicians and partners add to what we have at Capital Health: a caring, courageous, accountable organization that strives to always provide better care.

For this abundance, we are thankful and can take heart, no matter the challenge.